5 Things I’ve Learned from Writing My First Short Story

In elementary and middle school, my teachers would encourage me to write a short story. Writing a short story was the perfect outlet for me to unleash my imagination.

Well, I stopped writing stories when I got to high school, since my teachers made me writing essays only.

I didn’t think about writing fiction again until I stumbled upon Yin Chang’s 88 Cups of Tea podcast.

To my surprise, Chang interviews various NY Times Bestsellers on their writing process and struggles they’ve faced as writers.

After listening to the podcast a few times, I decided to write a short story! After editing my final draft, I submitted it to a literary magazine!

No matter what response I get from the magazine, I’m proud of myself for finally writing a short story.

From writing my short story, I’ve learned some things.

1. It’s a process

Don’t expect a perfect draft on the first time. Your story will probably change more than once. Get the idea of perfection out of your head.

2. Don’t get lazy

I will admit that I didn’t work on my story for more than a week. I was being lazy. It was my friend, who was so nice to edit my story, was always asking me when I would get a new draft to her. That forced me to continue perfecting my draft.

3. Expect a lot of rewrites

Coming up with an ending was the most challenging part. Every ending I wrote, my friend rejected it. She expressed that each ending didn’t feel natural for the story.

I took Matt de la Pena’s advice of not overthinking how a scene relates to the story. His advice eventually led me to my ending!

4. Accept constructive criticism

You won’t grow as a writer if you’re unwilling to accept constructive criticism. For example, my friend commented that the dialogue didn’t show the characters’ personalities. Her comments made me realize that the character development aspect was missing in my narration.

5. Utilize free time to write

During my breaks at my temp job, I was working on my story. I always brought a printed copy of my draft, so I could read and revise my story. Using those breaks were so beneficial because I didn’t have to worry about my draft when I got home.

Top 5 Favorite YouTubers

YouTube is my favorite place to waste time. I have subscribed to YouTubers who are funny and entertaining. Some of them happened to be Jvloggers. I have a desire to visit Japan soon.

Here are my top five favorites YouTubers:

1. Texan in Tokyo

Out of boredom, I was trying to find videos on living in Japan. Grace’s video popped up randomly. Over time, I began watching her videos constantly, especially her “A Day In My Life” series.

A nice bonus is her husband Ryosuke! He breaks the stereotype of Japanese people being robotic.

2. Mimei

Mimei is a New Zealand Jvlogger. She doesn’t take herself too seriously. The silly vibe of her videos make them far more pleasant to watch compared to other Jvloggers.

3. Wengie

Wengie is a YouTuber I discovered last week. Just saw a random video of hers and enjoyed how she shows off her daily life. Her hair is sick! I sometime wish that I had rainbow hair like hers.

4. Clothesencounters

Jenn Im is a fashion YouTuber, who gives excellent style advice. Her videos are structured in a simple way, where she shows full lengths and closeups of her various outfits. She also incorporates her daily life into her videos in an adorable way.

5. Edward Avila

Avila is a Filipino-American who lives in South Korea. He shares his humorous stories of living in Korea, including the time he met Kpop star Taecyeon. Plus, he shares his beauty routines too. I enjoy watching his videos due to his jokey personality. Also, he also experiment with different hairstyles, which are cool.

How To Edit Instagram Pictures

Instagram is the place to show off your pictures.

However, showing unedited pics is not appealing.

To edit Instagram pics, I recommend using the free mobile app VSCO.

Here is how I use VSCO:

1. Upload unedited pic on VSCO

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2. Click on edit options

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3. Use perspective options

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I use the vertical perspective to straighten out my image.

4. Crop

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I delete any empty space I don’t want.

5. Use clarity, sharpen, saturation, shadows save, highlights save or any edit options

 

 

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I generally play around with any edits to make my picture look brighter and clearer. It’s all trial and error. Don’t overthink with the editing.

6. Upload the VSCO pic on Instagram

 

 

7. Use Instagram filter

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8. Write caption and include hashtags

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Five Things I Learned In College

It has been over six months since I graduated college. I am slowly figuring out my life. I am glad that I went to college because I learned a lot from it.

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Me in Beijing

Here are five things I learned in college:

  1. Always be curious

People prefer to stick to one thing only. That causes them to not branch off. In life, you should always be striving to learn more. Never be afraid to learn a new skill or experience something different, such as traveling on your own for the first time.

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Kashgar, China
  1. Communication is important

If you have a problem with people, you have to tell them. Passive aggressive attitude will get you nowhere. When you tell people the issue, explain why it bothers you.

  1. Be organized

Life loves to throw things at us, but you have to stay organized. You have to know when work assignments are due. If you drop the ball, you will get in trouble.

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The Book Bar in Denver
  1. Advocate for yourself

Before college, I was a mouse. When I got to college, I quickly realized that I had to speak up. If you don’t stand up for yourself, you will get disrespected.

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  1. Give people a chance
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With my friends Lily and Bethany at Beijing University (Bei Da)

Socializing can be one of the scariest things possible, but you can’t be shy. People are not here to bite you. You can’t truly know people until you get to know them. Never be afraid to say hi first.  

5 Rules on Writing/Blogging

School loves to tell us how to write. We’re told that using contractions is wrong. A lot of professors make ridiculous requirements, such as requiring ten pages for an essay.

Well, a lot of things school teaches us are wrong in the real world.

Recently, I have been a contributor writer at Slant News. I have learned a few things about writing.

1. Don’t ramble

Readers have a short attention span. Generally, articles should be between 500 to 800 words. If you ramble, people won’t bother reading the whole thing.

2. Better to keep it short and simple

In school, it’s encouraged to write long sentences and paragraphs. In the real world, that isn’t okay. When writing an paragraph, it’s better to have only one sentence rather than five sentences. People want concise writing.

3. Only give reverent information

Background information is important, but only give facts that matter to your story. Dumping random facts on people will annoy them.

4. Know your audience

You have to cater your writing to whoever is reading it. If it’s for a specific professional crowd, you should incorporate their jargon into your work.

5. Have a clear point of view

Stick to your voice. Know what you want to convey to others.

 

The Difficulties of Forming a Creative Identity

Whether it’s fine art, film making, writing, fashion, music, or anything creative, it’s hard to develop your voice. You feel the pressure to do it all. Well, you can’t and it’s okay.

When you first enter a creative field, it’s huge. There are so many different types of things to do. Everything excites you.

Yet, there is a lot of competition. You fear that not doing enough will make you undesirable for anyone to hire. That fear makes you jump on anything presented to you. You try to tick every box in the industry. This might make you feel accomplished, but you get lost on who you are as a creative mind.

That is why you need to first think about what you want to do exactly. You don’t have to have a very specific idea and you shouldn’t. That sounds so contradictory, but you have to build depth in something without boxing yourself in. You don’t want people to typecast you or else it makes it hard for you to experiment later on.

To succeed, you have to have depth and range. Both are needed because you have to develop your skills well while being opened to different opportunities. It’s hard to achieve this without spreading yourself thin.

My advice is to take your time to figure your creative identity. Taking the time will help you see what works and what doesn’t work. Don’t let the pressure get to you.

Finding Inspiration

Laying in bed this morning, I struggled to get my butt up. I wondered what I was supposed to do. The idea of being productive did not appeal to me. All I wanted to do was to stay in bed. It was not until I grabbed my phone and listened to the British Muslim musician Harris J, who I found out by NPR.

Harris J’s song “Salam Alaikum” made me smile for some reason. The background tune sounded so simple, yet refreshing. I started dancing to the song.

Finding inspiration can be difficult sometime. We sometime think that we have to go to some exotic location to find inspiration. Yet, we don’t have to.

Inspiration can be found anywhere, especially on the internet. If it wasn’t for NPR, I would not have found out about Harris J. To find your inspiration, here are some simple ways:

1. Take a walk outside. Have your eyes wide open and enjoy the smell of the air. Something might spark something in your mind.

2. Read a book. It seems so mundane, but the story could stretch your imagination out more.

3. Waste some time online. This sounds so stupid, but you never know what you might find, especially on YouTube. I have found some creative videos, such as the Halloween makeup videos by Nicole Guerriero.

4. Hang out with friends. By simply talking with them can make you randomly think of an idea.

5. Look at images. Images are non-verbal messages made up of lines, colors, texture, and shades. Even one trait in the image could become your muse. You can find images in magazines, online, museums, and pretty much anywhere.